Archives for May 2010

Infidelity Q&A #13: What Must I Do to Protect Myself?

I’m reminded of being on an airplane when the oxygen mask comes down. You place the
oxygen mask on yourself first before the child or loved one sitting next to you. You
need to take care of yourself first before you can help others.

Here are four scenarios in which you may consider the need to protect yourself.

The first scenario is for someone who is involved in an “I can’t say no” type of

In this type of affair the cheating spouse is most likely losing control of his or
her life. You may observe him or her doing down the tubes. More and more it appears
that he or she is unable to control what’s occurring around him or within him or

As the “addiction” progresses you may experience forms of abuse, even physical abuse.

You must be able to set boundaries to protect yourself, or if that doesn’t work,
have an exit plan.

An exit plan lets you know where you can go and who can help you if the abusive
behavior intensifies.

The second scenario occurs in the “My Marriage Made Me Do It” type of affair.

Verbal abuse may be persistent. You’re persistently blamed for his or her actions.
He or she refuses to take responsibility and passive aggressively points his or her
finger at you as the cause for what’s going on.

I’m often reminded of the story of a frog that’s placed in water on the stove, and
the gas is turned on. The heat is turned up, and the frog is oblivious to the
heating water. Eventually, the frog is boiled.

That sometimes is the case when we’re involved in relationships where there’s a
longtime history of blame and subtle verbal abuse. You become boiled in a way, and
you need to be aware if that is happening.

Thirdly, you may need to protect yourself in the “I fell out of love and just love
being in love” kind of affair.

Impulsivity often reigns. You may need to check your bank account, check your
finances or get an attorney. Make sure that your life is not disintegrating in
those particular areas.

Fourth, consider the “I don’t want to say no” affair in which there’s a sense of

You may need to protect yourself sexually. S/he involved in that type of affair is
often oblivious to precautions. Consequences are not considered.

Your physical health may be at risk if there is sexual activity with him/her.

Infidelity Q&A #12: What Support Do I Need?

When you bump into infidelity, when you encounter a cheating spouse, you are flooded
and overwhelmed by powerful and intense feelings.

Some prefer not to talk about the affair or talk about the situation.

You may find it extremely difficult to talk. You may be embarrassed.

Or, you may not want others to know for fear of embarrassment or for fear that if
others find out; somehow your talking to another will get around to your cheating
spouse and might make matters worse.

It’s frequently difficult to talk to family and friends.

In some ways you’re too close to family and friends. They discover that someone is
having an affair close to them and they react. They’re not sure how to respond.

Many people have myths and stereotypes about infidelity, so their response is often
less than helpful.

Family or friends may say, “Kick him/her out. Why do you put up with this?”

But you know that it’s not that simple.

So many people that you talk to won’t understand and won’t be able to guide you or
give you the kind of support or the kind of help that you really, truly need.

Now this is also true in the case of professionals. I’m a licensed marriage and
family therapist in the state of Michigan and a certified social worker for the past
27 years.

In my training in marriage and family therapy, the issue of infidelity was never
brought up as a specific sub-category.

Professional therapists may try to extrapolate certain concepts onto the animal of
infidelity. This does not often work.

If you do seek therapy, seek out a therapist who ideally is recommended by someone
who has success with that therapist in the arena of infidelity, if possible.

The Internet, the web, has been a lifesaving place for many, many people suffering
from the agony of infidelity.

I have a support group on Ning, which is I think now about 2,500 members and very
active. Go to:

I also have a support group on Facebook that is less active but, again, serves a
purpose. Go to Facebook and do a search on infidelity and you will find the support

I also have a chat room that is visited by a number of people consistently. Chatters
say, “You know, the chat room has really been my savior. When I can’t sleep at
night, I go there and talk to people and I’ve made fast and true friends.”

As a matter of fact, a few years ago I got an email from somebody who said that they
were getting together locally with a group of people who were meeting in my chat
room to support and encourage each other.

Here’s the link for the chatroom: